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Opinion: Remember when the music…

Middle of July and the weather is hot, hotter and hottest. However, since August is usually the warmest month of the year, we have that to look forward to.

It was 41 years ago today that one of my all-time favorite singers, Harry Chapin died in East Meadow, NY on New York Interstate 495.

He died as the result of a crash in a 1975 Volkswagen when he was rear-ended by a semi-truck.

He was en route to a benefit-free concert in Westbury, Long Island. He was 38 years old.

Primarily a folk/rock singer and songwriter he told great stories through his music.

Quite the humanitarian, his fight against hunger received a great deal of money from his concerts.

I was blessed to see him perform on Oct. 10, 1979, at the Big Fresno Fair. My best-friend Robin Beban and I were celebrating our mutual birthdays, her in September and mine in October.

We got to the concert stage a few hours early so I could get a front-row seat. I brought an album cover and got his autograph. His people sold t-shirts to fund his fight against hunger, I bought one and he signed that too.

Robin and I went to quite a few Fresno Fair concerts in our younger days. One year we saw Rick Nelson on her birthday. All the way there I bragged I would get him to sing Happy Birthday to her.

Again we had front row seats, and he did sing Happy Birthday to Robin. I have always had more guts than good sense! And rarely have I had a problem being bold.

When Ricky Nelson played the Madera District Fair I waited for him in the bar at Madera Valley Inn. He and his entourage had rooms there. I got his autograph on the sleeve of a 45-RPM record just as his limousine pulled up outside MVI.

On the sidewalk outside the lounge were gathered the other patrons in the bar. I had spent a couple of hours there waiting for his arrival.

They were watching what I’m sure many thought was me making a fool of myself or at the very least starstruck and annoying a celebrity. To this day I don’t care what they thought, it’s one of my favorite memories.

He once played the Merced Fair and Fred took Robin, another girlfriend Glenda Thomas and me to see him.

I got Nelson’s autograph on a greatest hit album cover I took to the concert. I swore at the time I was going to get his signature on the album cover and I succeeded.

The New Year’s Eve in 1985 when he died in a plane crash my phone rang off the hook with people calling me with the bad news.

Since that time I’ve not followed the career or had a favorite recording artist. Not that my ego is so large that I feel I’m a musician jinx, but why risk it.

Besides, I am far too old to have any “groupie,” left in me.

Fred was always great about taking me to concerts. A few years ago he took me to see War at Table Mountain. War will always hold a special place in my memory. It was at a War concert, at the Madera fairgrounds where I picked him up in 1975. I joked at the concert I was there to drop him off but the band wouldn’t take him. A stupid joke, no doubt, but one I found it hilarious at the time.

Somewhere I have a photo of us taken with the band. We’ve moved several times since then. Maybe it’s in my mini-storage. At least I hope so!

Have a blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix at or @tamijonix on Twitter.



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